Tuesday, 31 March 2020

god gave us grace on november 8 2016 to change the course we were on

In order to—among other counter-programming techniques—to pre-empt the time-slot generally allotted to local news coverage (such as it is) Dear Leader has implemented a nightly summit ostensibly on the exponential spread of the novel corona virus in the US with an occasional word from our sponsors, as in this recent infomercial praising what Trump, whom is portraying hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths as acceptable losses in a perverse Hegelian dialectic that solves the manufactured crisis on slightly better terms, has meant for the country.
Sweet dreams and nighty nightmare—it’s bedtime (see more on their shared business models here and here) for the republic. Do not watch this dangerous and dishonest propaganda; there is far too much at stake.

stemmario

Once again Present /&/ Correct directs us to a brilliant curated collection in the 1938 redesigns of municipal crests and regional coats of arms executed by futurist sculptor and graphic designer Fortunato Depero (*1892 – †1960)—whom founded a utopian, reinventionist art movement similar, parallel to Bauhaus after World War I in Rovereto.
We especially liked the blazons for Como and Pisa but all have the same visually striking effect. Depero unfortunately is not accorded the same level of attention as some of his peers but enjoys a legacy nonetheless, including the unique and ubiquitous design of the bottle that Campari soda comes in.

gallery space

Whilst the great institutions are closed to their admiring public, the Met, the Getty, the Rijksmuseum and others have conscripted the virtual community to restage famous, iconic masterpieces with improvised materials found around the house whilst we all are sheltering-in-place.
We really enjoyed some of the outfits and improvised landmarks faithful to the original that people have created, and we were especially taken with the homage to Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Wedding portrait, which can normally be visited at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Choose your favourite piece of art and do share your recreation.

Monday, 30 March 2020

a day in the life

Once again returning to our faithful chronicler we mark today among other notable events in 1967, the Beatles in costume arrived at the photo studio of Michael Cooper to have their likenesses captured for inclusion on the iconic cover for their eighth album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the concept painstakingly assembled and realised by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, posing before a tableau of cardboard cut-outs of celebrities and historical figures.
The impetus for this alter ego musical group was in part owing to the Beatles’ tiring of touring with John Lennon’s suggestions that wax-works on stage would please audiences just as well, presaging the backlash that his comment that they were “more popular than Jesus” and a belated, bellwether acid-trip by Paul McCartney. The throng is not so much a recognition of their influences but rather a snapshot of the cultural topology of the moment.  Watch a short documentary on the album art’s making at Doctor Caligari’s Cabinet at the link up top.

data-plan or seward’s folly

Though criticism for US Secretary of State’s negotiated purchase (see also) of the territory of Alaska from the Russian Empire—agreed to on this day in 1867—was much more reserved and the decision and price praised by most in the government at the time and only magnified through the lens of history, hindsight and self-promotion on the part of his detractors, William Henry Seward’s shrewd deal-making had failed him in another arena that resulted in a quite expensive misstep just a few months earlier.
The Secretary of State was honoured with inaugurating the first enduring transatlantic cable on 23 November 1866 (see also) and elected to dispatch a diplomatic telegram—and not merely a ceremonial message but an actual missive encrypted regarding Napoleon III perceived meddling in the affairs of Mexico using a Monroe cipher since the Department of State was footing the bill. The Anglo-American Telegraph company however stipulated that coded messages cost double and that numbers (the basis of the cipher) were required to be spelled out in full. In the end, the brief message cost the State Department nearly twenty-thousand dollars—thrice the chief’s diplomat’s annual salary. Seward disputed the charges in court but ultimately lost.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

skirting the issue

Fast Company has a brief but circumspect survey of how fashion has informed and enforced social distancing through the ages with hoop skirts and hijabs and masquerades and mukena as interventions to communicability. What other dress do you think keeps diseases and unwanted suitors at bay? I wonder what sorts of accessories might come out of this latest push for separation.

g.i. joe is the code name for america’s daring, highly trained special mission force - its purpose: to defend human freedom against cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world

Whether or not GI*Joe is worthy of one’s nostalgia or inviting another to indulge that does not share this particular shibboleth (also known as Action Force in the UK and other markets) of shared cultural upbringing is debatable and ought to stand up to that scrutiny in better times and in a pinch but we wholeheartedly endorse what io9 (previously) had to say about how refreshing it was to see a caring and competent governmental-sponsored organisation able to execute its mission not just against Cobra but to protect the environment as well without being hamstringed. In any case, it’s certainly heroic to while away the hours whilst socially segregating oneself in order to save lives.

postmaster or fancy-cancels

Via the always stunning Present /&/ Correct, we appreciated making the acquaintance with a wonderful resource for vintage ephemera in the Bulgarian Virtual Museum for Socialism through the lens of this cheerful collection of postal seals and cancellation (oblitération, измиране) stamps, especially this one commemorating sixty years of radio broadcasting in the country. With an abundance of travel, film and political posters, company and trade logos and extra philately, there’s much more to explore at the links above.